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I have been arrested but not convicted yet. I just got a job and they will do a background check. Will it show my arrest?

Tallahassee, FL |

When I applied they asked if I had been convicted. I put no and technically I don't think I was lying. When they perform the background check, what will they see? Will they see the arrest and what it was for? If so, how do I approach my employer and explain as to my reason why I did not put it in there?

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Attorney answers 3


If the arresting police agency has public records of the arrest, or if the clerk of court has public records of all significant court activity (like a case being opened up upon an arrest and/or first appearance and/or filing of an arrest affidavit/criminal complaint, etc.) or if some other agency has public records of arrests, then an arrest does show up in a "background check" done by anyone in the common public. for example, some counties in Florida have every jail booking record online, and it is accesible to the public for free; and some counties have clerk's of court offices online, showing all criminal case court record activity, accesible to the public; and some counties have both. hard copy court files are typically public in any event. further, a "private or corporate investigator" often can access records that a non-licensed investigator cannot. last, private/corporate investigators often have corporate funds to spend on paying the plenty of online services to retrieve all kinds of information about anybody. in sum, an arrest is "a record of an arrest". in answering a job application question that asks if the applicant "has ever been convicted of a crime", an arrest alone does NOT qualify as a "conviction". typically, a "conviction" can mean different things depending on what statute is applicable. for example, federal law/rules contexts typically count as "convictions" adjudications of guilt by the court, or, even "withholds of adjudication" by the court and even contexts admitting/proving guilt. Florida criminal statutes typically require an adjudication of guilt to constitute "conviction" BUT some Florida criminal statutes count "withholds of adjudication" as "convictions". if a recent arrest is the only thing in a job applicant's past, and the case has not made it to court yet, and the question is "ever have been convicted", the honest answer is "no". the bottom line is that we live in an open society, and we don't allow for "secret arrests". the downside to folks arrested is that they cannot expect much privacy about the fact that they have been arrested. there is often certain remedies to seal or expunge arrest records from the eyes of certain folks in certain contexts, but only in limited circumstances and in limited persons' backgrounds. also, "sealing or expunging" is only allowed in certain jurisdictions in any event. the very best advice for anyone having been arrested, is to consult with an attorney with whom one feels comfortable and in whom one has confidence. an educated attorney is critical to properly advise about the specifics of a case, the different future ramifications of short term results, and answer the client's specific case questions properly. it is better to invest in proper legal representation when a case is beginning, than to be regretting in the future, the negative future impact of foolish past decisions made without proper legal counsel. good luck.

This answer is intended for general purposes only for the AVVO website, as a general source to help the public. This answer is NOT intended to advise on any particular case whatsoever, and it is impossible to give meaningful, intelligent, or informed advise about a case that a lawyer, like me, has absolutely no specific information or sufficient knowledge about, with which to form a case specific opinion, and about a defendant whom the lawyer, like me, has not met or learned anything concretely about. In sum, this answer does NOT propose to form any advice at all about any specific case or about any specific defendant, but rather, this answer only is designed as a general source of information for the public in general.


Leon County, Florida is very prompt about putting arrest information into the public sphere. Any cursory background check is going to pick up your arrest and the prelimary charging information. It sounds as if you have properly answered the exact question posed to you on the application. However, an employer in Florida can fire or refuse to hire you for any reason not prohibited by law (race, religion, sex, etc...), so if the employer disapproves of your arrest you may not get the job.

Feel free to contact my office if you have any specific questions regarding your charge and prospective employer.


Undoubtedly, the arrest will appear on background checks. Simply put your name in Google, and it will probably show up. However, you are correct that you have not been convicted and therefore you did not lie on your application. I would explain this to the employer as you are still presumed innocent and you could even explain that you have or are getting an attorney to help you fight this.

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